On our website we say that we can't accept flute students under the age of 7 and recommend waiting until the student is at least 8 before introducing the flute. Why do we say this and is your child the exception?
Like most advice, this is highly variable depending on the individual child. I'll tell you the 4 things we are looking for in a student before starting them on flute.
1. Are their lungs developed enough?
The flute is a woodwind instrument and needs a lot of air to make a good tone. Small children also have small lungs, which means less air to move. If they start learning with such a disadvantage, they can over compensate and it can be difficult to correct later.
2. Will they be able to treat the flute carefully?
I always recommend investing in a high quality flute at the beginning of your studies because it can last you for years. However, that investment can be expensive and younger children are not always good with expensive, delicate things. Think about how they react to frustration and if it involves hitting or breaking things, it's probably not a good time for a flute.
3. Are their hands and fingers big enough to hold the flute correctly?
If their hands aren't large enough to play using proper technique, they will end up learning and practicing poor technique to compensate. This could cause problems with their hands or be difficult to re-train later. There are flutes with curved head joints that mitigate these issues if you're willing to replace it with a straight headed flute later.
4. Do they have perseverance?
Making the "first sounds" on flute take practice and patience. Unlike instruments like piano or ukulele, where the initial 'sounds' happen quickly, the flute may take several attempts before they make a sound. Younger child often find this delay difficult and may not want to continue trying.
The reason we say 7 or 8 is because they are the approximate age when a significant amount of kids reach these goals. For some, it may be even later, up to 10 years old.
In the meantime, the recorder is another, less expensive woodwind instrument that can help them develop lung control and musical concepts that can translate to flute later.
When in doubt, we'd be happy to schedule a trial lesson and let you know if flute lessons are a good choice at this time for your child.